On this day – Dec 8


The Big Cats’ National Cup dreams were ended on Sunday as they went down 79-75 against Reading Rockets at the Brentwood Centre .

Howard Crawford proved to be unstoppable for Youngblood’s side with 31 points, eight rebounds and three assists . But his American compatriot Kris Clark was the only other Leopard in double figures with 13 points, nine boards and eight assists.

A good start from Crawford saw him score 12 points as Leopards took a 14-8 lead in the first three minutes before a 6-0 run saw Rockets reduce the lead to two .

Courtney Van Beest broke the tear, but Liam Carpenter drained a three to give his side a 17-16 lead at the first break,

A pair of Lawrence Brown baskets off Crawford assists kept Leopards within a point in the early stages of the second period, and seven straight points from Youngblood together with a basket from captain Carl Josey saw them tie the score at 35 with two and a half first half minutes remaining .

But a time-out from Rockets’ coach Manuel Pena-Garces proved crucial as Josh Wilcher and Lewis Champion both hit treys for the visitors as they finished the half on a 12-3 run to lead 47-39 at half-time .

Champion hit another pair of three-pointers to take that lead out to 15 points in the opening three minutes of the second half before Crawford broke the run, and a trey from Tom Martin made it a seven point game at the five minute mark .

Crawford and Clark kept the hosts in touch, and it was the former who hit one of two free-throws and a jump shot to cut the deficit to 65-55 at the final break .

Sam Iwueke converted one of two foul shots to open the fourth period but when Christian Garcia Laya scored a lay-up with 5:42 on the clock and Rockets up by 12 the game looked beyond Leopards .

Inevitably it was Crawford who sparked the comeback with a free-throw before five straight Ish Fontaine points followed by a Josey trey made it a three point game and Crawford sunk a pair of foul shots to complete the 11-0 run and make it a one point game with 2:17 remaining .

That was as close as the Big Cats got, though, despite a massive block from Youngblood with 67 seconds on the clock, and Rockets wrapped up a place in the final from the foul line .

1999 – Leopards shot down by Bullets

adidas London Leopards 72 (18,20,37)
Capers 20, Brantley 18, Quashie 10
Pertemps Bullets Birmingham 88 (10,29,54)
Lloyd 31, Phoenix 22, Williams 10
Dairylea Dunkers Championship @ Brentwood Leisure Centre
Pertemps Bullets Birmingham snapped their 3 game losing streak inflicting adidas London Leopards 4th defeat in a week 88-72.
The Leopards, without injured guard Jason Kimbrough, struggled offensively and after leading 18-10 after quarter managed only 2 points in the 2nd quarter as the visitors racked up 19 to turn around a tight game and lead 29-20 at the interval. Bullets Nigel Lloyd led all scores with 31 points.

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